Review Detail

Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A

A Modern Day Melendy Story

The Vanderbeekers family of five children, parents, dog and rabbit have lived on two floors in a brownstone in Harlem. The father grew up in the same neighborhood. Just before Christmas, however, their landlord, Mr. Beiderman, decides not to renew their lease, and they have to move right after Christmas. This is a problem, because the family has gotten a reduced rate because the father acts as the superintendent, and the rent on anything large enough for the family would be prohibitive. They may have to move out of the city! Hyacinth, twins Isa and Jessie, Laney and Oliver all have plans to persuade the reclusive landlord to change his mind, even circulating a petition in their neighborhood. They have lots of friends nearby-- the Castlemans, who run a bakery and have a son the age of the twins; Mr. Jeet and Miss Jessie, who live upstairs and are like grandparents; even the postman has been working in the neighborhood longer than the father has been alive and brings treats for the dog. Of course, other things are occurring while the family is trying to pack up for the move, and they plan to celebrate their last Christmas in style. Will a miracle occur so that they can stay?

Good Points
This had a quaint, Melendy Family vibe, but updated for the new millenium. I love the cover, and the idea of living in the city sounds much more appealing than living there actually would be. The close knit neighborhood is wonderful, and the industriousness of the children is charming.

Young readers will completely buy into the family drama and not worry that if the family had to be out of the apartment in a few days, they should have made lots of plans. There are few families these days who have as many as five children, and there is something about an almost Brady Bunch sized family that appeals to children. There would be built in playmates, others upon whom blame could be foisted, and lots to distract parents from one's own antics. The Vanderbeekers are all singular, well depicted characters, and readers will be able to pick their favorite.

Clymer's The Trolleycar Family, Sidney's The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew, Taylor's All of a Kind Family and the more recent Birdsall Penderwicks series all show close knit, interesting families, and all of them would make the Vanderbeekers feel right at home on their streets!
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